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Reliance on Garnett creates dilemma

The SportsXchange

The Boston Celtics have become even more reliant on Kevin Garnett in this postseason -- at least when they want to win -- and it's created a dilemma.

On one hand, the club knows it needs to get him ample rest if he is to play at a high level. On the other hand, the C's can't afford to have him out of the game for too long.

Doc Rivers has tried to manage the 36-year-old center's minutes, and Wednesday night in Game 6 against the Philadelphia 76ers Garnett played 41 and had 20 points and 11 rebounds in Boston's 82-75 loss that set up a Game 7 Saturday.

"It can be hard, but we've got to give him breaks or we wouldn't be getting what we are from him," said Rivers.

Veteran guard Keyon Dooling may have put it best.

"Unfortunately this isn't a video game," he said. "You actually need a little rest."

Garnett came into Wednesday's game averaging 36.6 minutes in these playoffs. While that's up from the 31.1 he played in the regular season when the Celts were in full protect-KG mode, it's still manageable.

And Rivers claims it isn't overly difficult to hold back from going to Garnett more (though he may have been fibbing).

"No, it's not, because I know we can't," he said. "If he was young, it'd be hard. But we've accepted it. We know he has to get rest. To have to take him out in the fourth quarter is hard, but we have no choice.

"He's doing everything for us. But at the end of the day he can't play 48 minutes."

And it does no good to offer comparisons. While Wilt Chamberlain averaged 47.1 minutes at age 36 in his last postseason, Garnett has a slimmer body type. And it can't be easy on KG that he's trying to play inside more now.

"Whatever we can get from Kevin, we'll take," said Rivers.
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